Why is it important to sell yourself?
Because in life you are either selling, or being sold to.
If you are exerting influence, you are selling; and for someone to buy into you, they must deem you credible. So don’t get bumped around in life. Take a stand and use your own powers of influence.
Let’s look at selling yourself in the context of job-seeking; if you don’t sell yourself when looking for work, you should expect someone else to land the job.
Jobseekers often complain about how they could do a better job than someone else they know. And maybe they could, but it’s not enough to be good, you have to get noticed. You have to market yourself, promote your own brand, influence others…You have to sell yourself. Do this and you will carve out opportunities for yourself, as well as inviting opportunities to find you.
Recruiters and hirers don’t care about your skills if you are a fisherman when they are trying to find an IT Director. Anyone looking for candidates wants to know what you are, first. And yet, incredibly, when jobseekers are asked this predictable question, they all too often give a useless fluffy answer, or worse, they give their life story.
Do you know what your core message is? Are you communicating that verbally, via your CV, via your LinkedIn profile, via your elevator pitch? Do you even know what you are right now?
Try to avoid the I-don’t-like-to-pigeon-hole-myself cop-out, because if you can’t present your skill-set succinctly, recruiters and hirers will struggle to understand your place in the workforce. If this happens, they won’t bring their vacancies to you.
When searching for a new book to read, you don’t open the book, you read the synopsis on the back. Your core message is your synopsis and vital if you want to get noticed amid all the noise that is social media and the sheer pace of life today. It is not just a useful tool in itself, but the process of writing a well-crafted elevator pitch will help you, the jobseeker, get clarity of thought where your skills are concerned, which will help you generate a confident mind-set for your job search and the subsequent job interviews.
Selling yourself starts with getting noticed. Distil your message down to draw people’s attention to the crucial information first, so that they actually want to learn more about you. Remember: first impressions are incredibly important.
Creating your CV
Once you’ve crafted your elevator pitch you should use it at the beginning of your CV/resume and then build the broader message around it.
Your CV/resume is the tool that provides more information about you, now that you’ve been noticed. Its purpose is to secure you an interview. Avoid the mistakes that so many people make: the clichés, repetition, fluff and opinion. Use facts and achievements to inform and impress.
Making the most of social media
Now you have improved content, you can use it to good effect in your LinkedIn profile. When you are a jobseeker, your LinkedIn profile makes for an excellent online CV. In fact, it’s even better than a CV for a multitude of reasons, not least: the fact that it’s in the public domain makes it less likely to be greatly embellished. Use your elevator pitch in the summary of your profile because it’ll help create that all-important good first impression. Add good use of ‘keywords’ – the words that are most likely to be used to find someone of your skill-set. Use the most important keywords in the most prominent parts of your profile.
So now you have a clear message that you are making available to people who just might be the gatekeepers to the career you want. But it doesn’t end there. Through social media we now have unprecedented access to the who-is-who of the working population. It has never been easier to identify your next potential boss by way of a speculative approach.
It’s reckoned that up to 70% of executive level positions are NOT advertised. That leaves the highly competitive 30% that are. Do you want to scramble over the competition in the 30% pool? Or land that next opportunity by showing some initiative? True: you won’t know where those opportunities are, but just like in sales, you increase your luck by increasing your activity. The more approaches you make to potential hiring managers, the more likely you are to find one who is interested in hiring you! The only exception to this is if your skills are no longer sought after, and if that’s the case, either re-skill or retire.
So what can we take from this?
- It’s not enough to be good; you have to get noticed.
- Find out what is important for you communicate?
- Get clarity and you’ll get confidence.
- First impressions really are that important.
- Use your individualism.
- Social media is changing everything. Get on board!
- Play the game well – seek out competitive advantage.
- Be proactive and use your initiative.
If a promotion is your goal, not a new job in a new company, then think about who they tend to promote. Do they promote shrinking violets? Probably not. Then you’ve got to get noticed, but by whom? What do you need to communicate to them to get their full attention? Do they know you’re committed to getting a promotion? Why should they promote you as opposed to your colleagues? Can social media help you demonstrate your skill, or perhaps help you to improve your skill by getting advice from people who know? Keep asking the question – How can I get promoted – and you will find answers. Then take action.
How you feel about yourself massively affects how others feel about you. What they feel about you will impact your career prospects more than almost anything else. So, find your voice, but most of all, use it.
About the Author
Richard Pimm is from Toastmasters International, a non-profit educational organisation that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of meeting locations. Headquartered in Rancho Santa Margarita, California, the organisation’s membership exceeds 352,000 in more than 16,400 clubs in 141 countries. Since 1924, Toastmasters International has helped people of all backgrounds become more confident in front of an audience. There are more than 300 clubs in the UK and Ireland with over 7,500 members. To find your local club: www.toastmasters.org Follow @Toastmasters on Twitter.